Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst PC Review
The original instalment of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was released for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 earlier in the year. It brought a new story, more characters and the series’ well-known gorgeous battle system that captures the essence of the anime so well. What’s special about this Full Burst release of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is the fact that this is the first time the series has ever touched the PC platform. If you already own Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 on console, then you can buy Full Burst as an digital expansion that builds on top of the existing game. Since this is a look at the PC version, we’re treating the review as a whole new game release for the platform.
As an anime and manga, Naruto has been going for over 10 years. That’s a lot of story to process into a video game, and if you’re an exclusive PC gamer, then you’re going to struggle to understand the earlier Naruto plot. Rather than bog down fans by forcing them to replay the same story again and again (it’s already been done in the previous Ultimate Ninja Storm games), Full Burst continues on where the plot left off in Ultimate Ninja Storm 2.
After the prologue scene that features the fourth Hokage battling the Nine-Tailed Fox during its attack on The Hidden Leaf village, the story jumps to the beginning of the Five Kage Summit Arc and then leads on to finishing the Shinobi World War Arc. Apart from the ending, the game’s plot sticks close to the anime adaptation, which will be great for fans as they take part in cinematic-action that could easily be mistaken for the anime. Newcomers to the game who don’t’ follow the anime will most likely end up confused or lost with what’s going on with the large amount of characters involved. This is something that is hard to solve unless the developers decide to force people to play through all the story again. There’s the Ninja World Timeline that lets you fight previous battles from the earlier Naruto story arcs with a brief description, but it’s not as comprehensive as taking part in the stories that were presented in the past games.
Ultimate Adventure is where all your time will be spent in the beginning. It’s where the entire story plot is told, but most importantly, it’s how you unlock the cast of 81 characters to use in Free Battle – the game’s versus mode. Ultimate Adventure is packed with content, taking around 12 hours to get through the main plot. However, people who have issues with games taking the control away from the player to run 15 minute cutscenes won’t enjoy the fact that Ultimate Adventure does this often, but let’s be honest; this is a game aimed for Naruto fans who want to see a video game representation of the anime, so a lot of people who don’t dig the anime or manga are probably not going to play this game for its story mode.
The game throws players straight into the action, by beginning with the battle against the Nine-Tailed Fox as Minato, Naruto’s father, and the Third Hokage. This first battle demonstrates what to expect from the rest of the game. It’s a showcase of the amazing presentation the developers have worked hard on to capture the source material. Seriously, with the cinematic camera angles and cel-shaded art style, you could easily mistake it for the anime if you were sitting away from the television.
There are various types of fights in Ultimate Adventure. The main fighting engine is based on one vs. one in a 3D environment, with the camera slightly away and above the shoulder of the character to give a good view of the wide-open arena. The good thing about the Ultimate Ninja Storm games is that the battle system has always targeted Naruto fans and not fighting game fans. This means that the game is great for casual fighting players, as there isn’t any deep combat mechanics that take hours upon hours to master. This being the PC version, I would advise using an Xbox 360 controller. The keyboard can be used, but for fighting in this game, I felt that the Xbox 360 controller did the job wonderfully. The game has all the button prompts for the controller without having to assign anything, so your good to go from the start.
The simplicity of the fighting engine means that combos are strung together by tapping the B button, with directions on the left stick altering the combo chain. X allows for throwing shurikens or ninja knives, A is your jump and dodge, while Y manages chakra control. Chakra is a very big part of Full Burst’s combat, as this opens up a character’s fullest potential. Think of it as super metre, but being able to charge it at will by holding down the Y button. Pressing Y will infuse chakra around the character, enabling a one time use to either do a super dash, a more powerful physical attack or a buffed up shuriken throw. Once used, you’ll have to press Y again to engulf in more chakra to gain back this power. Having a full metre and double tapping Y enables a special move that acts like an Ultra move from Street Fighter IV – a cinematic action scene that deals high damage while looking flashy, but most important of all, it’s what you need to use to turn the tide of battle in your favour.
That’s just brushing over the basics. There are other features, such as the substitution justu, which allows a person to teleport out of a combo to safety, offering the chance to counter the attacker or quickly use of one of four items that are assigned to the D-pad directions. Chakra can be used in the middle of the combo to break the combo string, letting the character restart the combo to deal more damage. It might be a casual fighter, but there’s certainly a lot here to make sure you aren’t bored tapping the attack button all the time. The fights in Full Burst are constantly hectic. There’s no downtime, as players are rushing, jumping and firing off projectiles that make it a lot different from the heavy footsie-based gameplay of Street Fighter or other tournament fighting games. While it’s quite fun, don’t expect the game to be balanced – some characters feel way overpoweed compared to some of the lesser known heroes.
Occasionally, a very important story fight in Ultimate Adventure pops up that moves away from the one vs.one engine and into a more flashier experience with quick-time event (QTE) gameplay. This is similar in style to Asura’s Wrath, where the action continues out even if you fail a button press, since the player is awarded points if they manage to press the corresponding buttons on screen within a time limit. If a player manages to fill all the star points before the scene finishes, then a special cinematic opens up extending the story as a reward. These QTE scenes are some of the best action in the game, and it helps that it looks fantastic, as this motivates the player to get caught up and involved with the action that is happening in front of them.
When you’re done with the plot, Ultimate Adventure still delivers content by having a tonne of side- missions to take part in. These missions vary in quality. Some are awful fetch quests, while others will lead to fights or mini-games. Finding and beating all these missions is challenging, and probably only the die-hard Naruto fans will stick with trying to achieve the 100% completion rate for Ultimate Adventure.
Free Battle and Online are the two remaining modes outside of Ultimate Adventure. In Free Battle, you can set up matches locally with friends, fight the CPU or set up eight man tournaments. Challenge Missions are also available in this mode, which start off easy, but progressively get harder by adding battle conditions, for example, having health drain if your chakra goes below 50%, or the opponent receiving extra defence, which make the battles favour the computer controller character more so than yourself. Between this and the main single-player game, there is a lot of content to jump into for a fighting game that will keep you busy for some time.
The online handles well in this PC version of Full Burst. The standard Ranked and Player matches are featured here, and there is the ability to set up tournaments as well. As far as connection problems, for the most part, I had none. There is the occasional hiccup where lag is too strong and it causes issues with the gameplay, but I think that was more due to the distance of the player rather than the game having poor netcode. The player count can be an issue on PC, as sometimes I was waiting a couple of minutes to find a game; hopefully, the player count will continue to grow as more people pick up the game.
Being the first game on the PC for the franchise, Full Burst is surely going to be shot questions about the quality of the port. I can confirm that the game is locked at 30FPS, which might put some people off, but the reason it is locked to 30FPS is due to the animations locked to the frame rate. It’s really not that bad though for this type of fighting game where frames aren’t essential for linking combos. What you should know is that it looks stunning on the PC. The inclusion of 1080p and the ability to use super sampling in the rather barebones graphics options (resolution, window mode and Vsync are the only options besides super sampling) makes this game incredibly sharp, simply looking gorgeous with the cel-shaded art style. Only the upscaled interface spoils the graphics. One thing that hurts the presentation is the audio. The English dub track doesn’t sync up with the mouths, meaning there are often times where the mouths are moving but no audio is heard. The Japanese voice track is included, so you can use that to fix the issue. Overall, there is no doubt that this is the definitive version of Full Burst.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst is a great anime licensed game that gives anyone exclusive to the PC a chance to finally jump into the colourful world of Naruto. Fans of the series who also own a gaming PC might want to invest in this version, as the image quality makes the fantastic animation and art style truly shine. If you have no interest in Naruto, then this is going to be a hard sell until it goes cheaper. But for others, what CyberConnect2 has delivered is a title that stays very faithful to the source material that fans of Naruto will truly appreciate and enjoy.